Hundreds of people turned out to farewell Jo-Anne Mackinnon, who died in last week's 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

Mackinnon's funeral was held at St Peter's Catholic Church, Beckenham, in Christchurch, yesterday. She died at the Mt Lyford home she shared with her partner, Gary Morton.

She has two adult daughters, Bonnie and Amanda.

The family were supported by hundreds of relations and friends at the funeral. After the service, Mackinnon's body was taken by helicopter to her native Kaikoura.


Morton said he wanted to return the 55-year-old to the place she came into the world.

"She was born in Kaikoura and has a family plot there," he said.

Morton told the Weekend Herald the couple ran for the door when the quake struck.

"I could feel her hitting my back. Then some bolts holding the log cabin down broke and the cabin moved very sharply and we both hit the ground hard.

"I could not find her and was yelling out with no reply."

He had to shine his car's headlights on the house to find her. Despite CPR and help from others she was unable to be revived.

It was 14 hours before a helicopter arrived to take Mackinnon's body to Christchurch. Morton stayed by her side the whole time.

"It was terrible. I've never, ever felt so helpless and alone in my life. It was pitch dark, the house was gone, it was still shaking and she was dead in my arms."

Mackinnon's family asked for privacy for the funeral.